CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Panthers coach Ron Rivera confirmed the team has traded veteran linebacker Jon Beason to the Giants, pending a physical in New York.
The Panthers reportedly will receive a late-round draft pick in return, although Rivera would not confirm that. Panthers general manger Dave Gettleman, who spent 15 years in the Giants' front office before coming to Carolina in January, has been unavailable to the media.
Beason, 28, has been dealing with injuries since signing a five-year, $51.5 million contract extension in the summer of 2011. A torn Achilles in 2011 and knee and shoulder issues in 2012 limited him to just five games over the past two seasons.
But Rivera expects Beason to pass his physical, which is scheduled for Friday.
"The trade benefits both the team and Jon," Rivera said. "We'll obviously get something out of it and it gives Jon the opportunity to get on the field right away."
And after a slow start through the first two games this year, Beason was replaced in the starting lineup at weakside linebacker by Chase Blackburn against the Giants two weeks ago. It was the first time in Beason's 72 games with the Panthers that he didn't start.
Beason met with Rivera on Thursday morning and told him he still wanted to be a starter. Rivera informed him the Panthers were sticking with Blackburn, setting in motion the trade discussions with the Giants.
"It was tough on him. He's a very prideful young man who's a solid football player and wanted the opportunity (to be a starter). And he was great about it," Rivera said. "When he and I sat down and talked, he was as professional as it gets. We talked about what his desires were, and that's where we are."
Panthers veteran receiver Steve Smith said it was tough saying good-bye to his friend and teammate.
"When your friend gets traded, I don't care how neat it's done, you always feel like, 'Man, why'd they have to do him like that?'" Smith said. "And not saying the organization did him good or bad. But as a friend, when you see a friend leave, you wish him the best but you wish him here."
Beason has been playing through pain following microfracture surgery on his right knee in October. In a loss to Buffalo in Week 2, Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel threw at Beason five times, completing all five for 112 yards.
Beason would seem to be a better fit at middle linebacker, which has fewer coverage responsibilities. Mark Herzlich has been starting at middle linebacker for the Giants since former Panther Dan Connor's season-ending injury.
Beason lost his starting spot at middle linebacker spot last year to Luke Kuechly, who won the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Rivera told his players about the trade Friday morning during a team meeting.
"It's very tough because of what he's meant to this organization and what he's meant to this team, the defense and to the linebackers," Rivera said. "He texted me this morning and said, 'Hey, I just want to make sure everybody knows I truly appreciate everything and I love the guys in the locker room.' That was the message."
Beason, a first-round pick out of Miami in 2007, ranks second behind Mike Minter (953) on the Panthers' all-time tackles list with 701.
Early in his career, the Panthers had no better tackler than Beason, who became the first rookie in club history to lead the team in tackles. Beason's first four seasons produced the top four single-season tackle totals in team history at the time.
Beason made the Pro Bowl after each of his first three seasons.
Before rupturing his left Achilles in the 2011 season opener at Arizona, Beason had started 65 consecutive games -- the fourth-longest streak in club history.
But injuries have taken a toll the past two years.
Beason agreed to a $4.25 million pay cut this year in a restructured deal, but can recoup $1.75 million if he's active for all 16 games. Beason's new contract voids after this season.
"I don't really think he didn't anything wrong. He did the best he can with the circumstances," Smith said. "When he was on the field, he played well. And when he was off the field, he was a supporting teammate. When was on IR, he still pushed guys and wanted guys to play because he wanted to be out there with us."
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